Valplayso Project An Example of Community Pride

Valparaiso Rotary Club volunteers at Valplayso 2014

Valparaiso Rotary Club volunteers at Valplayso 2014

Like many of the Valparaiso Parks, Valplayso has a rich history of serving children and parents of several generations. The next generation Valplayso is now complete, as nearly 3,000 community members gave their support as managers, workers and as financial contributors to the project. Many individuals, corporations and non-profits donated time, money, and food for the work crews. As a result, the Valparaiso Park Department was able to leverage the purchase of some fantastic play equipment, provide a safer environment, better parking, improved bathrooms and more.
As of December 2014, the park was mostly operational for the enjoyment of Valpo residents and visitors. The park department was still seeking to fill the final spaces of The Face Place, a Valplayso gathering spot and a place where anyone may have their likeness etched on a tile for display. To learn more about sponsorship and naming opportunities, contact Valpo Parks at 219-462-5144 or see the attached pdf handout. RootsFall2014_valpoparks

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4x4s are placed in preparation as supports for playground equipment at Valplayso

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Good Valparaiso Breakfast Spots

When you need a good breakfast restaurant to jump-start your day, consider several of these time tested restaurants in Valparaiso, Indiana. Be forewarned that the author is not a professional restaurant critic, but has enjoyed several hundred breakfasts in town at many locations for over 40 years.

Jimmy’s Cafe at 55 Michigan Avenue is a downtown diner with a comfortable small footprint. Menu is traditional midwestern breakfast fare with egg dishes and much more. Often provided by the owner, you’ll enjoy the fast, friendly service and quality food. They only take cash, so be sure to stop at the ATM on the way.

Phil-B’s Cafe at 908 Roosevelt Rd. has treated area locals for years with good food at fair prices. The menu is traditional diner and the location is fairly central in the heart of Valparaiso near Evans Avenue.

Suzie’s Cafe at 1050 Southpoint Circle offers some of the best homemade baked goods in the area. Known for it’s freshly made dishes complemented by fresh fruit and vegetables, Suzie’s attracts return customers for years. Lunch here is also excellent with homemade salads, sandwiches and soups.

The Silver Spoon at 15 E Lincolnway is in the heart of downtown across from the courthouse. Offering the most contemporary and finest dining of these locations, the Silver Spoon has original creations from stuffed french toast to crepes, to skillets and omelets. It’s one of the newer breakfast spots, but has already earned a very strong following in a few short years.

The Viking Chili Bowl at 105 Morthland on historic US 30 is a good choice for traditional midwestern-style breakfast and lunch dining at nice prices. Well-sized portions are offered with either combo or individual items, with a pretty vast menu of selections from pancakes and french toast to egg dishes.

Broadway Cafe at 1805 Morthland Dr (US HWY 30) offers a broad menu throughout the day, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Located on the southeast corner of Valparaiso University it’s convenient for travelers, and it’s menu offers american and ethnic cuisines. From the Broadway Specials at great prices to skillets, crepes, omelettes, and wraps, including senior specials, there is something for everyone.  www.broadwaycafevalpo.com for more information.

Blackbird Cafe at 114 E. Lincolnway is a great choice for excellent coffee and teas complementing breakfast sandwiches and light fare, such as bagels and scones.  The atmosphere is friendly, vibrant and young.  Blackbird is one of Valpo’s oldest coffee houses offering college-town ambiance.

LePeep at 3800 N. Calumet Ave. is a locally-owned national franchise bringing fresh American and French breakfast cuisine to the table. The menu offers skillet meals, omelets, French toast and pancakes, benedicts, waffles, granolas and oatmeals, and fresh fruits. It’s a warm local family atmosphere inside with friendly staff.

A few other places of mention include regional chain Round The Clock for downtown daily dining, and national eatery Bob Evans on Morthland Avenue. There is no doubt that in Valpo, you’ll certainly find a myriad of solid dining options throughout the day.  Enjoy your breakfast!

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Indoor Sports Keep Valparaiso Residents Warm

During fall and winter months, local Indiana sports teams gear up for the coming seasons.  For all ages, from youth thru college,  indoor sports keep wintertime exciting in addition to the excitement Mother Nature provides.  From basketball to volleyball to wrestling and swimming/diving to indoor tennis and indoor soccer, Valparaiso residents seek out the entertainment and spirit. 

Valparaiso University (VU) provides the college backdrop for exciting basketball games against some of the nation’s best teams from the Big Ten, Big East, and it’s own leage the Horizon League.  Valpo teams have played host to such teams as Purdue, Notre Dame, and Butler among others which have featured top players and very exciting finishes.  Women’s volleyball matches also heat-up the Athletics Recreation Center (ARC) and draw nice crowds to see great competition at the collegiate-level. 

The ARC at Valpo U

 In the state of Indiana, Hoosier Hysteria begins it’s reign with high school basketball games starting in mid-November.  While most schoolkids in Valpo go on to be Valparaiso Vikings, some children on the outskirts may become Wheeler Bearcats, Boone Grove Wolves, Morgan Township Cherokees, Portage Indians, Washington Township Senators, Andrean 59ers, or Chesterton Trojans in their high school years.  No matter your school colors,  you can certainly find many winter spectator sports within a 15-minute drive.

For indoor winter sports participants, there are several options for wintertime fitness.  The Valparaiso YMCA (www.valpoymca.org) at 1201 Cumberland Crossing has an indoor track, basketball courts, weights and cardio equipment, yoga and spinning rooms, and swimming pool and splash pool, among other features.  The Courts of Northwest Indiana (www.thecourtsofnwi.com) offer indoor basketball, soccer, volleyball, batting cages, and gymnastics.  For indoor tennis, The Courts of Northwest Indiana has 6 indoor courts and tennis clubhouse at their new tennis bubble just off the intersection of IN Hwy 6 and IN Hwy 49. There are also a handful of other indoor gyms and fitness centers in the area to choose from including Cardinal Fitness, Anytime Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, and Southlake Nautilus among others.  Some churches also hold wintertime leagues for basketball and volleyball enthusiasts.

The Valparaiso YMCA

Greater Valparaiso with it’s many facilities and schools give athletes and spectators plenty to cheer about during the winter season in Northwest Indiana.

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Visual Valpo Launched by City

The City of Valparaiso Indiana has launched a new program called Visual Valpo, aimed to provide a channel for public concerns to be brought to the attention of city staff. 

Whether it be potholes, downed trees, damaged signs, unsightly refuse, a malfunctioning light, or other issues, residents are encouraged to contact the city thru the Visual Valpo program. Designed to help keep Valparaiso safe and looking great in all seasons, residents and visitors can 1) text the keyword visualvalpo to 313131, 2) call 219-548-4850, OR 3) visit www.valpo.us/requesttracker.aspx  to submit concerns.  Alternatively, an iphone application called Citizen Request Tracker is also available for download. The city will then direct the message to the proper city department so it receives prompt attention. 

As always, residents should still dial 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency in Valparaiso and outlying communities.

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Winter Activities in Valparaiso, Indiana

As the cold and snow of winter sets into Northwest Indiana, the greater Valparaiso area and Porter County offer many wintertime recreational opportunities.  

Those with an interest in sledding and toboggan rides can set their sights on Forest Park Golf Course off Harrison Boulevard or Rogers-Lakewood Park Derby Downs off North Campbell Street.  Ice skating and recreational hockey skating is available seasonally and weather dependent at Tower Park near Evans Avenue, and Deep River Waterpark offers coolant controlled ice skating and rentals all winter west of Valparaiso on Highway 30. 

Cross country skiers who have their gear can enjoy trails all over the area, including Sunset Hill Farm off North Campbell, the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore, and Forest Park Golf Course.   Lake effect snow often brings good snowpack, and the rolling hills and dunes offer varied terrain and some excitement and speed on certain trails.  Ice fishing is also available at many lakes throughout the area, however anglers are advised to watch the changing ice conditions.  

The Pines Ski Area, as of the start of 2o11, was still not in operation for skiing.  However the owners do operate a ski shop for those looking to outfit for a venture to other downhill ski areas.  Michigan and Wisconsin offer the most downhill skiing in the area, with most areas a 3 to 5 hour drive from the Northwest Indiana region.   

Indoor based activities in Valpo might include the Valpo YMCA which offers basketball, swimming, weighlifting, yoga, pilates, cardio machines, an indoor walking track, kid’s activities room, and more.  Inman’s Lanes on Evans Avenue is Valparaiso’s bowling and game attraction, and Zao Island off Hwy 30 at Horseprarie Avenue offers video gaming, skee ball, mini-golf, pizza and drinks, and other winter activities on the near south side of Valpo.  Theatre and performing arts are also available in Downtown Valpo and at VU.

Spectator sports are big in the region, with many attending the Valpo High and Valparaiso University basketball and volleyball games.  Other nearby major colleges with winter sports include Purdue in West Lafayette (1.5 hours), Notre Dame (1 hour), and Northwestern University in Chicago  (1.5 hours).  And the United Center in Chicago, home of the Bulls and Blackhawks, is just over an hour from Valparaiso.

As one can see, there are many ways to avoid cabin fever in the winter months. So get out and enjoy the winter season at these great recreational opportunities in the region.

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Porter County Homebuyers Must File Tax Exemptions

The Porter County, Indiana tax system allows homeowners various ways to reduce their property taxes.  These exemptions mainly apply to owner-occupied single family residences. The most common exemptions taken are the homestead and mortgage exemptions, and they can possibly reduce a homeowner’s bill by nearly 50% under a tax bill without such exemptions.  

Other available exemptions  include green energy exemptions for wind, solar, and geothermal energy usage, over 65 years old, blind, disabled, disabled veteran, World War I veteran, and others.

Investment properties are typically not allowed exemptions, however please check with the county to see if energy exemptions or others may apply.  In duplexes that are partially owner occupied, square footage prorations are typically applied to give the homeowner a partial exemption on their property.

To file in Porter County, home owners should visit the Porter County Administration Building in Valparaiso at 155 Indiana Avenue before year end.  Applicants must have a current driver’s license with their new address, the last 5 digits of their social security number, and may need a copy of the deed, information on the mortgage, and more.  To learn more online, visit the Porter County website auditors page at http://www.porterco.org/index.php?id=auditor .  A link directly to the PDF form explaining exemptions is http://www.in.gov/icpr/webfile/formsdiv/51781.pdf . You may also call the county at 219-465-3445 for more information.

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Valparaiso’s University Promenade Moving Forward

A new project slated for the north gateway to Valparaiso University appears to be moving forward by 2011.  University Promenade, located at the intersections of Lincolnway (and Laporte) with University Drive, will be a mixed use project with commercial, retail, and 28 two-story loft-style condos.  With an estimated cost of around $9 million, the design consists of two three-story buildings and feature such amenities as an alumni park and possibly a stage for public shows.  The developers added a few key consultants to their team, and had meetings with the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission and Valpo city officials over the past several months to adjust the design plans given the feedback they received.  Watch for the team to close on the property sale, and begin work soon.

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Valpo’s Cherry Hill Subdivision offers New Homes and Lots

One of several ponds at Cherry Hill in Valpo

Hardwood forests are the centerpeice for one of Valparaiso’s newer subdivisions called Cherry Hill. 

Located off 250 West on the northeast side of Valparaiso, Cherry Hill offers over 64 permit ready lots and several completed single family homes currently priced from the $150s to the $400s.  The neighborhood has a restored woodland area with a mature forest and pond, and a collection of more small ponds and trails on the west section of the 160 acres.  Upon completion of phases I and II, Cherry Hill will feature over 58 acres of parkland.  Good sixed lots, rolling vistas, city water and sewer, and Valparaiso schools are a few of the many things attracting buyers to this new development. Lot owners can “bring your own builder”, or may choose to use BlueStone Homes, one of the preferred builders in the subdivision.  Lots are currently priced from $37,000 to $99,900 and range up to just over 1/2 acre in size.  Some offer walk-out or garden level basement construction, and others are fairly level.   

BlueStone Homes is building in the $220,000 to $400,000 range, and Accent Homes is building homes from the $140s and up.  Vaughn Staab, developer of Cherry Hill and owner of BlueStone Homes, cites the park-like setting, easy commute, and attractiveness of Valparaiso for relocation as some of the many reasons he created Cherry Hill. Vaughn offers a team of talented builders with a “yes we can” attitude that is accustomed to working with the most discriminating luxury buyers, but that is capable of quick build times on any home. 

Cherry Hill is currently offering special rates for financing and low downpayments on lots and homes through DeMotte State Bank, one of the area’s most active local mortgage lending banks.  For more details, visit www.cherryhillsvalpo.com or contact the sales team at 219-241-8401.

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Enjoy more than nature at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens

The Meyer Pavilion

At Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, located just outside of Valparaiso, visitors can take in the beautiful gardens, walk on trails meandering through woods, wetlands, and prairies, and observe an abundance of natural flora.  But if  you are looking for a little more, check out these summer events.

A summer concert series, Music in Nature, showcases an eclectic mix of musical acts.  The performances take place at the Meyer Pavilion, which is surrounded by a large grassy area.  Bring a chair or blanket, come listen and enjoy!  A full schedule of the concerts is available at: www.taltree.org/concerts.html

Also offered at the Meyer Pavilion during the summer is Hatha Yoga.  Wake up early Saturday morning and enjoy a full hour of rejuvenating yoga taught by a certified instructor.  In addition, a Gentle Yoga class is available on on Tuesday mornings.  Visitors age 50+ can receive a free pass to the Arboretum on this day.  Check out the Events Calender for more information: www.taltree.org/calendarMain.htm

Regardless of your reason to visit, a trip to Taltree Arboretum & Gardens  is an extraordinary experience!  For more information: www.taltree.org

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Valparaiso Farmer’s Market open June thru October

Fresh produce in the summer and early fall months is celebrated at the Valpo Farmer’s Market in Downtown Valparaiso, Indiana. Located at the intersection of Indiana and Lafayette Streets, the Central Park Plaza Market offers fresh fruit and vegetables, baked goods, cheeses, sweet treats, fresh flowers, and more.  The market is open June thru October on Tuesdays from 8am-5pm and Saturdays from 8am-2pm.  rTrail Collective Edge is also hosting optional art project workshops on select Saturdays from 10am-2pm and prices run from $10-$15 per participant. The Valparaiso Downtown Dining Association will also be preparing tasty foods every week.   This event is a great opportunity to buy local from our local farmers and support our local businesses in the heart of Porter County.

farmers market valparaiso, valparaiso indiana events

Downtown Park Plaza

For more information on the market or other events, check out site www.valparaisoevents.com .

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